Friends Make Chemo Almost Bearable

Nicole Nada shares the fun and not-so-fun side of her cancer treatment.

The treatment lab at the Marin Cancer Institute might seem like an odd place to hang out with friends and get caught up, but I do kind of look forward to my monthly injection. The shot itself isn't something to look forward to, but the people are certainly something special.

I narrowly missed Nicole Nada when I went to the Marin Cancer Institute last week. Nicole's inspirational bike ride from Eureka to Greenbrae raised more than $15,000 for the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project.

The last time we talked, she was just starting chemotherapy so I was eager to see how she was doing. Well, we didn't get the chance to gab, but I caught up on her blog King My Cancer.

Here's her latest post:

Rhonda and I arrived  last night in time to say hello to  my sister and family.  Of course she fed us and we got to play with Samantha’s beloved rats, Tasha and Sadie.

We headed to Marin General Hospital for lab work at 7, grabbed a delicious breakfast at Rustic Bakery in Larkspur (a delicious and beautiful bakery ~ Rhonda was doing some R&D), and were next door at the Marin Cancer Center for my chemotherapy Round 2 by 8:15.   My white blood cells were fine, platelet counts low, but OK to proceed with infusion.

A lot of people are asking me if I have a port.  No I do not.  I am hoping to go through all of the needles required this year without a port, but if I end up needing one because my veins give out or something then so be it (I cannot have shots in my right arm due to lymphedema risk).  The Center where I go does not use ports unless they have to which I appreciate.  Some people prefer them to being stuck every time by a needle, but not me.

The first half hour or so of my “chemotherapy treatment session” (sounds like a spa, doesn’t it?) I receive anti-nausea medicines.  Then come the actual seek and destroy chemotherapy medicines, the red Adriamycin (also known as Doxorubicin) and lastly the Cytoxan (a.k.a. Cyclophosphamide).

Fortunately all the while the waterfall sounds were behind me, hummingbirds were flitting in front of me, and harp music was playing five feet away.

I was supposed to receive Jin Shin Jyutsu on the table after my chemotherapy treatment, but we were running late so Corliss Chan, the certified Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner at the Marin Cancer Center, came to the infusion room and taught Rhonda and I some “self-help” Jin Shin Jyutsu that we can do at home (she recommends before bed and first thing in the morning) and she did some work on me as well.  It is so relaxing.

So these are all the reasons I did not hop on the ipad and do a post from chemotherapy front line.  It was too peaceful and fun being in the moment and experiencing what was there for me.

Rhonda did an excellent job as photojournalist and was also incredibly patient with the frequent bathroom stops on the way to and from chemotherapy (the trouble with traveling on days where I am supposed to drink hefty amounts of water).

We had post chemo lunch at Good Earth in Fairfax even though it was way out of our way.  It is the most fantastic natural food store around.  I have supported it since it was in a tiny little space on Bolinas (I grew up in Fairfax) and I love what it has become. The community is so fortunate.

We rolled into Arcata by 8:00 p.m. in time to put my kids to bed!  I was so happy to see my family.

Here is a short video Garrett put together today that captures the time in the infusion room and ends with my fabulous lunch at Good Earth.  The song is Loving Kindness by Charity and the Jam Band.

Just a few news and notes:

• The Caring for Carcinoid Foundation announced nominations are currently being accepted for the 2012 Warner Advocacy Award. The award, being presented by Novartis Oncology through Patient Advocacy and The NET Alliance, will be presented to a patient, advocate, or caregiver who brings dedication, passion, and leadership to the Neuro Endocrine Tumor community. If you know someone who you would like to nominate, fill out the online nomination form by Friday, June 15, 2012.

• The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Novato is coming up on July 28 at San Jose Middle School. The Relay for Life of San Rafael will be at College of Marin's Kentfield campus August 25.

For more information on cancer and carcinoid cancer, consider these sites:

Carcinoid Cancer Foundation

Caring for Carcinoid Foundation

Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network


Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute

Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles

Marin Cancer Institute

University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland

Jimmy V Foundation

American Cancer Society

Hatti Hamlin June 13, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Nicole is one awe-inspiring woman! I feel privileged to have had the chance to meet her, and I think about her almost every day, wondering how she is faring. Thank you for the updates about her experience; it warms my heart to know that she faces each day with such grace, courage, and good humor! I love the fact that she takes such delight in the everyday joys of eating good food, friendship and, of course, her beautiful children. Best wishes to her, and to everyone who is facing off against cancer.


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